Mississippi's U.S. Senate race continues to shape up as qualifyi - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Mississippi's U.S. Senate race continues to shape up as qualifying deadline approaches

Andy Taggart Source: WLBT Andy Taggart Source: WLBT
Senate candidates - Source: WLBT Senate candidates - Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

We’re still months away from the U.S. Senate special election to fill Thad Cochran’s seat, but weeks away from learning the final line up of candidates. 

Thursday, one of those potential candidates made a final call not the enter the race.

Republican Andy Taggart had hinted at a possible run but put a cap on those questions Thursday, saying he will not run for U.S. Senate. Millsaps political science professor makes this point about the announcement.

Taggart released a statement saying: 

I have decided not to enter the race for United States Senate.

I am very grateful to my family for bearing with me, for the encouragement and advice so many friends have offered in the past two weeks, and for the kind offers of support from people I didn’t even know before considering this race.

The positive reaction I received all over the state from people who join with me in support of a new state flag gives me great hope that we will see that change become a reality sooner rather than later.

READ MORE: Republican Andy Taggart announces he will not run in U.S. Senate special election

"McDaniel's camp probably has to be the most disappointed because they knew a path to victory, a path to the run-off, would have been significantly cleared by having the Republican vote split up a bit more," noted Taggart.

Candidate Chris McDaniel called Taggart out on Twitter Wednesday night and Taggart fired back. While it ramped up interest from politicos, Townsend doesn't think it's enough to make a big impact in the race.

"I think for most voters though, they're not paying that much attention," he said. "I think for the vast majority of Mississippi voters, it's going to be a little while. It's going to be later into the summer when you see more ads on TV."

A recent Chism Strategies' poll shows Democrat Mike Espy in the lead. It was conducted before Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton announced his candidacy. 

READ MORE: Tupelo mayor enters race for U.S. Senator

"It's not unimaginable to have a Democratic U.S. Senator in Mississippi," noted Townsend. "I think that's the one thing I really want to emphasize. Whether you think that's a good thing or bad thing, the fundamentals at play and the particular dynamics at play in this race leave open the real possibility that there will be a Democratic U.S. Senator from Mississippi. And that's interesting and noteworthy."

That being said, Townsend believes Shelton will likely struggle with widespread name recognition, but does think he may--as a moderate democrat--- pull some votes away from Cindy Hyde-Smith.

The qualifying deadline is April 24. The special election will be held November 6 and a runoff November 27, if needed.

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